Budweiser and gun control
Nobody seems to know exactly when or how, but a rumor started back in the 1970s that Anheuser-Busch (the makers of Budweiser and several other popular beers in the United States) supported gun control. No one knows where the rumor started, no one knows why - but it spread like wildfire, and very little seemed to be effective in fighting it.
A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on. — Mark Twain
The irony is that the Busch family, with their German background, counted many avid hunters in their ranks. They were anything but anti-gun. Augie Busch III proudly proclaimed just that to a meeting back in 1998. But how do you say that to the public? "Oh, no, that’s not true, we LOVE guns!" And watch the cloud of dust as the gun-control fans charge off to buy Miller. You have to be careful. A-B took a long, slow approach, squashing individual appearances of the rumor when they could, taking out ads in hunting magazines, and supporting shooting competitions.
These efforts worked for the most part, but with the advent of the Internet the rumor came alive yet again. Suddenly every bizarre thought any idiot with a modem had was flashed around the world, and the question "But isn’t Budweiser for gun control?" was springing up on bulletin boards all through cyberspace.
 The facts
Not a single shred of evidence has ever been brought forward to show that A-B gave even a nickle to the Brady Bunch or any other gaggle of gun control kooks.
Anheuser-Busch is anything but pro-gun-grabber and still tries to do what they can to combat this rumor, sometimes with important consequences. In 1999 they supported Missouri’s controversial proposed concealed carry law, to the dismay of gun-control forces across the country. This position almost certainly had its origins in the anti-anti-gun campaign A-B had been waging for 20 years. And still, the rumor refuses to die. As you can imagine, the Bradys had a conniption:
Sarah Brady, Gun/Alcohol Experts Decry Anheuser-Busch Support For Carrying Concealed Weapons In Missouri
WASHINGTON - March 22 - Sarah Brady, Chair of Handgun Control today condemned Anheuser-Busch, Inc. for its recent support of Proposition B, a Missouri state-wide referendum which if passed would give the state one of the weakest concealed-carry laws in the nation. The April 6 referendum marks the first time in the U.S. that the controversial issue of carrying concealed weapons has been put to a state-wide vote; a pro-gun Missouri group is calling the vote 'the last great gun battle of the 20th century' and the gun lobby is pouring money and political clout into the campaign.
Headquartered in St. Louis, the giant beer and entertainment conglomerate is the only major Missouri corporation to publicly support Proposition B, despite opposition from most Missouri law enforcement and health groups. Missouri newspapers reported that Anheuser-Busch decided to take the unusual step of publicly backing a lax concealed-carry system to refute Internet-based rumors that the company was "pro-gun-control."
"The audacity of this endorsement is just breathtaking," Mrs. Brady said. "Here we have the world's largest beer company telling the citizens of their home state that carrying loaded guns in drinking establishments is a good thing. Here we have a company that, for all its talk of the need for individual freedom, is pandering to the gun lobby."
"What was Anheuser-Busch thinking? Why are they ignoring their own message ' that drinkers should drink responsibly, shooters should shoot responsibly, and that guns and alcohol should never, never mix?"
Proposition B would allow Missourians convicted of serious misdemeanor crimes including stalking, assault and child molestation to carry concealed weapons. The proposition is so vaguely worded that people with permits could carry assault pistols, including the Uzi and TEC-9, into daycare centers, on school grounds and busses ' and into bars, sports stadiums, restaurants and other establishments that serve alcohol. Missouri currently is one of seven states that do not permit the carrying of concealed weapons, and its crime rate has declined by 22% in the last five years ' more than that of most states which currently have lax concealed-carry laws.
"Even the NRA tells its members never to consume alcohol before shooting," Mrs. Brady commented. "Shooting ranges, many of which are run by NRA instructors, prohibit alcohol on the premises. So according to their logic, it's not OK to go to a shooting range with a can of Budweiser in your pocket, but it's fine to go into a Kansas City bar with a loaded handgun. The new Anheuser-Busch advertising slogan should be: Drink now, shoot later."
Mrs. Brady was joined by Diana Conti, Executive Director of the Marin Institute, which has focused much of its research on alcohol-related social problems and on Anheuser-Busch, and by the daughters of Deborah Kitchen, who was rendered a quadriplegic by a drunken ex-boyfriend who had just purchased a gun. Although the relationship between alcohol and violence is complex, study after study has shown that in most violent events, both victims and offenders were drinking alcohol before the violent incident took place.
"Unlike the gun lobby, Handgun Control does not call for a boycott of a corporation's products because they take a position different from ours," Mrs. Brady said. "Our many friends in Missouri, including the majority of law enforcement and health organizations, who oppose Proposition B do so because they know that Missouri does not need thousands of hidden handguns carried by the wrong people in the wrong places. What I will do is call on Anheuser-Busch to rethink its responsibility to the Missouri citizens whose lives and families would be endangered if Proposition B passes, and take a stand for public safety. No guns in bars. Guns and alcohol don't mix."
— Brady Bunch media release dated March 22, 1999
Even the NRA confirms the rumor is bogus: "Anheuser-Busch is very supportive of the rights of law-abiding gun owners and hunters," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said. He said the NRA held its annual meeting in St. Louis, the corporation's home city, and engaged in joint activities with Anheuser-Busch.
A-B also stopped backing Gov. Bob Holden in 2003 - in large part because of their differences over CCW. Holden was pro-gun control and had vetoed a concealed-carry bill passed by the Missouri General Assembly. This, however, was short-lived because his veto was overridden by both the Missouri General Assembly and Senate and the concealed-carry bill passed into law in 2003. Several Republican legislators who had initially voted against the bill, including Michael Gibbons of Kirkwood, switched sides to override Holden's veto. Holden's bid for re-election in 2004 was a flop.
- This was originally published on the handguncontrol.org website dated March 22, 1999 at 11:01 am, but has since periodically disappeared down the internet rabbit hole. It seems to come and go at the political convenience of the Brady Campaign.
- Gary White, "Company Rumors Debunked" The Ledger, Sunday, August 19, 2007.
- Jo Mannies, "A-B drops support of Holden over guns" St. Louis Post-Dispatch